Category Archives: Monthly Roundups

Beast Mode: September ’21 Roundup

"I don't believe it" Kyubey falling through space

Wow, I’m everywhere this month! Look at all these headings!

On the blog

The Half of It: Love Letters, Plato, and the Myth of “Your Other Half” – in which I (finally, this poor post kept getting pushed back for more timely topics!) spill my feelings about this queer coming-of-age story.

Affection That Devours: Beastars and Relationships – in which I attempt to wrangle the themes in Beastars season two and come up with something about (un)healthy intimacy.

Queer YA Spotlight: The Mirror Season – in which I encourage you (content warnings taken into account) to pick up this beautiful story about magic and trauma.

On The Conversation

Iggy & Ace: A Zany Aussie Comedy About Two Gay Best Friends – and Alcohol Abuse – in which The Convo invites me (!) to review a new indie tragicomedy about a pair of queer friends and their addiction issues.

On AniFem

Pulla Magi Madoka Magica Rewatchalong Part Three – to round off our retrospective trilogy, we return to the scene of the crime… Rebellion Story.

On Otaku Tribune

Genre and Gender in Wonder Egg Priority – no, I have not run out of words about this show. These ones are about the series’ weird genre shift from fantasy to sci-fi, and how that coincides and interlinks directly with its weird shift in narrative focus away from the girls and towards the adult men.

Bonus book chats: Ciara Smyth makes me laugh AND wrecks my shop (again) with Not My Problem, a self-styled (and authentically irritating) “romance expert” gets up to shenanigans in Meet Cute Diary, we attack and dethrone some gods in Alexandra Bracken’s Lore, and get in the robot in the surprisingly fantastic Gearbreakers.

Web reading

An analysis of The Sad Walrus Show, and what it gets so right about melancholy and mental health (and where it might come off more nuanced than its American “adult anthro animals” counterparts like, say, BoJack Horseman)

I’m always here for deep dives into what the hell is going on with Riverdale, and this is one with a more positive take: Riverdale is written like wrestling, and by that metric Riverdale is a fantastic phantasmagoria.

We all had fun poking and peering at the Met Gala costumes, but what’s it like behind the scenes? Eugene Lee Yang, who attended for the first time this year—invited just a week in advance!—gives us a look behind the curtain as well as a celebration of what’s truly important about the event in terms of art, history, and visibility for marginalised creators.

Chimeric Visions: Television’s Renewed Obsession with Human-Animal Hybrids – Lauren Collee looks to new shows like Sweet Tooth and Sexy Beasts and sees a pretty domesticated version of ancient fears and fascinations about what makes us “human” rather than “animalistic”.

The Troubled Golden Age of Trans Literature – more books by trans authors are hitting shelves and milestones, but publishing still has its traditional hang-ups, and many writers are calling for more nuanced conversation surrounding their books and the current market.

Fallout 4 Has Aged Like a Ghoul – during lockdown, my partner booted the ol’ post-apocalyptic Bethesda game back up and found a very lacklustre experience waiting for them. Steven Strom’s article (reposted at just the right time) hits the nail on the head as to why the RPG feels so shallow and has so little longevity, especially compared to others in its franchise.

Gearing Up or Dressing Up? On Female Fighter Equipment – Raven Wu looks at the character design trends of chainmail bikinis and battle high heels, and why critiquing these elements is more than just “nitpicking”.

Wonder Egg Priority is Impossible – a fantastic musing on my favourite and most fascinating disasterpiece of the year, poetically put by Adam Wescott.

Drunk Book Club: Wings – Vrai and Dorothy get tipsy and tackle a YA faerie tale straight outta the Twilight era.

The song stuck in my head this month is… Lil Nas X. Of course it is.

It’s premiere reviews again in October, so look forward to those! Take care, everyone.

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Imagine an Egg: August ’21 Roundup

Life continues to Happen. There are a lot of really cool links below and I’m about ready to fall asleep, so I won’t preamble for too long! There are eggs to scramble!

On the blog

Rotten Eggs and Adult Agendas: How Girlhood is Constructed in Wonder Egg Priority – I take a look at this series’ scrambled finale with my kidlit studies hat on, examining how the construction of characters like Frill and Koito reveal the bias of the adults behind this story about adolescence.

Queer YA Spotlight: This Poison Heart – reimagined myths, spooky secret gardens, and the most delightful queer family I’ve ever read reign supreme in this fun contemporary fantasy.

On AniFem

Convenient Monsters: The Problem with Frill and Wonder Egg Priority‘s Take on Trauma – not satisfied with just analysing Koito, I give the series’ other maligned female character, Frill, a post of her own. Specifically, this one looks at how inventing and then maligning Frill screws with some significant thematic threads.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Rewatchalong Part One and Part Two – join me, Mercedez, and Vrai for the Miki Sayaka Feelings Hour!

Summer 2021 Three-Episode Check-in – not a season overstuffed with favourites, but I can see some recommendations shaping up!

The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! – Episode 1 – a zany reverse isekai comedy that mostly made me want to rewatch The Devil is a Part-Timer.

Fena: Pirate Princess – Episode 1 – swashbuckling shenanigans with a heroine who hopefully needs to be rescued less and less as the story progresses.

Academia – but on YouTube!

In July, I presented at two different virtual conferences, and have made these short presentations available for anyone that might find them useful or interesting! (Or anyone who just wants to check out my cool glasses)

How might the liminal, mischievous, underdog figure of the Trickster lend itself to stories about queer teens? (Presented in Canada, but from right in front of my bookshelf!)

Join my colleague Chloe and I for a brief introduction to the world of queer young adult fiction, from its historic beginnings in the 1960s all the way through to the new directions it’s taking now!

Around the web

A brief and energetic introduction to the all-women Takarazuka theatre tradition, which Kageki Shojo!! is drawing heavy inspiration from.

Modern costume dramas will often make their female leads derisive of feminine dress and activities as a shorthand for them being “feminist” by 21st century standards, despite the fact this actually runs counter to what feminist activists of the era were doing.

Anime and the Apocalypse: Finding Catharsis at the End of Everything – Lynzee Loveridge muses about the opposite of “escapism” in art, and the value in those big “thank god it’s over” moments after everything crumbles to ruin.

The Late Stage (or Lock Down) Loopy La-las – the Thesis Whisperer examines the very scientific concept of “the loopy la-las” and the way your brain can melt when deep in academic work. I reckon they’re onto something, and may start using that phrasing.

Now What? ; the Mystery of Odd Taxi – this drama is full of crime and thrills, but what it’s really about is people.

Kissing Mannequins: Watching The Bold and the Beautiful During a Pandemic – did you know they used mannequins and body doubles so they could continue filming never-ending soap opera shenanigans? Romance scholar Jodi McAlister provides a window into this weird and wonderful world, and how it’s helped her stay sane over the past year.

Beyond the School Cathedral: How Yuri Grew Up – Nicki “YuriMother” Bauman charts the genre’s recent expansion beyond the tropes and trappings of schoolgirl yuri into a market increasingly full of romances between adults.

We Are the Mountain: A Look at the “Inactive” Protagonist – Vida Cruz examines the way “agency” is often conflated with mobility and action, particularly in sci-fi and fantasy, and how surviving and coping with a world that Others you is an acceptable form of character strength even if it’s commonly dismissed.

Having Trauma Doesn’t Mean You Can Only Consume Mild, Boneless Art – for some, it’s tempting to argue that works with triggering content should simply not exist, lest they re-traumatise people. But these conversations remove a lot of the nuance around trauma and the way people interact with art.

This month’s song comes with a (warped, satirical laugh) track!

And that’s it for now. Goodnight, sweet dreams.

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Oceans and Emotions: July ’21 Roundup

What a glorious and exhausting anime-filled month! There’s always a sparkling anticipation in the air when it comes to premiere season. It’s a bit of a weird, stretched-out premiere season (and I have a couple more reviews on the way) and one that hasn’t yielded too many gems (though I am very much enamoured with both The Aquatope on White Sand and Kageki Shoujo!! every week). But for now, we’re taking a breath, and gathering all the goss in one place. See below!

On AniFem

Wonder Egg Priority Postmortem – Mercedez, Vrai, and I discuss how this series with such potential got so scrambled

Godzilla Singular Point – Episode 1 – the cinematic Big Lizard stomps onto Netflix for a brand new series

Drug Store in Another World – Episode 1 – a fantasy premiere that somehow manages to be zany and deadly boring

The Aquatope on White Sand – Episode 1 – a lush and expressive start to a show about the healing power of friendship and aquariums

The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace – Episode 1 – a stylish action opener that treats its women terribly and gives its cocky protagonist little room to grow

Spring 2021 Recommendations – read why I think you should watch Super Cub and Shadows House!

Webzone

Loki does not belong to the cis. Jessie runs through the character’s history, from his origins in myth through to Marvel comics and finally the movies and TV show, examining the many shifting layers of queer resonance he’s had in each incarnation.

One of many (loving yet frustrated) reflections on what went awry with WEGG, which I feel serves as an effective summary if you’re not familiar with the show but are curious what all the fuss is about. There are some additional details I’d add in terms of the thematic betrayal in the final episodes, but for that you can listen to the podcast!

Aesthetics (TM) like cottagecore and Dark Academia are a big part of the Internet landscape, but the idea of an artistic historical-inspired lifestyle is nothing new – in fact, as these costume historians dig into, the modern -core subcultures have an intriguing amount of parallels to fashions and philosophies from the Victorian era.

Want to settle in for a couple hours and listen to a French person well-versed in trashy television shred Riverdale to pieces, with detailed examinations of each character’s contradictions, the broken timeline, the problematic nature of sexualising the teenaged cast, and the general egomania of the showrunners? Of course you do. Grab a bag of chips and check this out.

What is YA, Anyway? – author Finn Longman muses on where the distinction truly lies between YA and adult fiction, and whether it has more to do with framing and theme than simply just the age of the characters.

It’s Time for Marvel to Put Up or Shut Up on LGBTQ+ Representation – after a decade of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments that confirm characters’ queerness – or, in some cases, those moments being cut altogether – fans are hungry for more substantial representation from mainstream superheroes. (A periodic reminder to read the Loki YA novel)

What Makes a Loki a Loki? Managing Multiplicity in Loki (2021) – speaking of Loki(s), in this post Madeleine Hunter examines how the multiverse setup of the Disney+ series works as an effective metaphor for the very process of growing and adapting an IP like the Marvel superheroes.

What We Owe to Creators: Burnout in Manga Artists and How to Prevent It – always topical, this article explores the harsh schedules and fan demands that see manga creators getting sick and injured.

Don’t forget to read the premiere reviews from the rest of my hardworking team – organised here!

This month’s song-stuck-in-head is AURORA’s new single. I like all her stuff, but each for quite different reasons. This one’s for the Bop.

And that’s all folks (at least for like, two days, and then there will be the first post of August!). Take care!

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Divine Inspiration: June ’21 Roundup

Happy Pride Month, everyone! Are we all looking forward to Wrath Month in July?

June has been very busy, but in an exciting, productive way. It’s the dead of winter here, and I’m spending a lot of time bundled up in a too-big hoodie revising and fleshing out my thesis. It’s a work in progress, but progress is happening, which is both very rewarding and deeply surreal. As you can see from the list of links below, this did not deter me from diving into the fun of recommendation posts. Check them out if you haven’t yet!

On Anime Herald

Heaven’s Design Team: A Celestial Celebration of the Creative Process – my official “please watch HDT, it’s very charming” article

On the blog

Pride Month YA Spotlight: Sci- fi and fantasy – from teen witches to ghost boyfriends to space wizards, here are some genre fiction adventures with queer teen protagonists

Pride Month Book Recs: Non-fiction, Memoirs, and Resources – essay collections, calls to action, and introductions to the sometimes prickly world of queer theory

Pride Month YA Spotlight: Contemporary Coming-of-Age Stories – back to YA now and back to the real world, with tales of first loves and explorations of agency

Pride Month Book Recs: Queer Manga – to wrap us up, some of my faves from the growing list of localised manga with LGBTQIA+ content

One Last Stop and the Magic of Queer History – and to actually wrap us up, a final post delving into the way this time-fracture romance explores the importance of queer memory and the past, present, and future of queer communities

And yet more books! Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating is a delight, One Last Stop is a good motivation for getting work done, and Horrid is some good old-fashioned Gothic spooky times.

Webzone

SIX is a lot of fun, but takes some liberties with its depictions of historical figures. But what exactly does the concert leave out, and what picture does it leave the audience with? (This is a pretty balanced and really interesting examination, rather than a dunk, I promise)

Initially derided as vapid and silly by a lot of 2000s anime fandom, K-On! is now regarded as a classic that defined a genre and has deep nostalgic value. Here’s a little look into how the series elevated its source material from fun four-panel comics into sweet and character-driven story, and why it works so well.

Eloquently and hilariously, Nick reviews the fairy tale retelling Sydney White, which turns into a whistle-stop tour of the uncomfortable tropes that 2000s-era comedy loved to lean on.

Spring is Sprung and I Have Not – “What does adulthood look like when you do not follow amatonormative and sex-normative pathways? What does winter look like when you are not looking forward to Spring?”

Kyubey’s Multi-Level Marketing Scheme: The Capitalist Metaphor of Madoka Magica – Audrey DuBois unpacks the magical girl series through an economic lens and unveils a working allegory for the cruelty of systems who endanger and exploit their workers (I edited this one, and it was v fun)

Queer Readings of The Lord of the Rings are Not Accidents – author Molly Knox Ostertag pens a heartfelt history of the layers of romance embedded in Sam and Frodo’s relationship, and the context surrounding them

Race, Power Dynamics, and the Missed Opportunities of Great Pretender – Beata explores how the flashy heist series tries to tell a story about outlaws who stick up for the oppressed, but doesn’t always succeed and ends up enforcing stereotypes along the way. (I did not edit this one, but it’s fantastic)

Just a good thread from author and analyst Xiran Jay Zhao about non-binary identity, and how there’s no one way to “look” it.

The Pride Book Fest was on during June, a book event of panels and interviews centred entirely around queer fiction! It’s all up for free on YouTube, and I covered a few panels here: Magical Worlds, Queer Adventures, The College Years, Queercoded Monsters Villains and Machines, and Coming of Age in Queer YA!

And this month’s song is Emily Brown’s melodic, dancey little ‘Unseen Girl’. She’s written in the stars, she’s the end of the world…

Next month is premiere review season (again!!) so stay tuned for those! Take care and I’ll see you on the flipside.

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Scootin’ Along: May ’21 Roundup

Hello! There goes another month! Good God!!

I have been a busy bee, working on fun and exciting things like this:

All going to plan (and I did make a plan, a beautiful little spreadsheet that I had to submit to the faculty) I’m submitting my PhD in August. It is DEEPLY surreal to be saying such a thing, after being in a constant state of Working On It for over three years now. The sensible thing would be to warn you all that I’ll be around less during the following months, but in actual fact the reverse is true because I’ve already scheduled a bunch of fun posts for Pride Month. Oops? I just love Making Content.

Speaking of content, here’s what I published this May!

On AniFem:

Genderless Gemstones: The Pros and Cons of Land of the Lustrous as Non-binary Representation – this series falls into some tired tropes about non-binary gender only being possible in non-human characters and otherworldly settings, but that doesn’t mean we ought to write it off as “bad rep” and call it a day. (There is some repurposed thesis material funnelled into this! I suppose this is that post about Phos and gender that I never felt “qualified” to write back when I reckoned I was cis…)

On the blog:

Super Cub: Of Grief, Freedom, and Motorcycles – a slow, sweet show about expanding your claustrophobic world. It wants to sell me a bike, but it’s mostly just warming my heart!

Queer YA Spotlight: The Falling in Love Montage – a romantic comedy that hit me upside the head with emotions about death and permanence. Very much excited to read Smyth’s next book, which I can only assume will also enrich and ruin my life.

Book chats: The Wayward Children series is still v good; Crier’s War is about a robot with gay.exe installed

Web content

Land of the Lustrous is a stunning adaptation not because it copies its source material shot for shot, but because it captures the beauty and energy of the manga while doing things unique to the medium of animation. This is a really cool breakdown of why the visual style in both versions works so effectively, and it makes me dearly want to reread and rewatch both.

Emily in Paris pulls the impressive feat of simultaneously presenting France as an idealistic playground for its American protagonist, and being excruciatingly racist to everyone who lives there. This Paris-born analyst breaks down why the show is so deeply dumb. Bonus: this show is so dumb that its Golden Globe nominations sparked an investigation into the corruption of award shows!

Death Becomes Her: The Style of Lady Dimetrescu – a deep dive into fashion and art history and how the ideas of “old world” glamour, opulence, and inherited power influence Lady D’s impeccable character design.

The Art of Pain: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness Creator Kabi Nagata – an interview about the autobiographical comics from one of the artist’s first public appearances.

Weaponizing My Youth: Growing Up Aromantic and the Fear of Missing Out – Lexa Frail writes about a childhood navigating the pervasive ideas that boys and girls cannot be friends and that marriage is the end goal to any adult life.

Idols Gone Viral: How Hololive Vtubers Both Subvert and Reinforce Expectations of Idol Femininity – Vtubers can be crude, lewd, and downright weird, making them a very different model of “idols” – yet in many aspects, they’re beholden to just as many strict rules. (Edited this one, toot toot. It was really fun!)

Casey McQuiston is Writing the Queer Rom-Coms She’s Always Wanted to Read – ahead of the release of One Last Stop (which I am also v excited to read) the author talks about writing for “depressed queer millennials” and the importance of being corny now and then.

Bonus: Resident Evil Village is not a scary game! Let these puppets of the main villains assure you.

And this month, the song I have stuck in my head is the stuff of legend. Transgender Street Legend, that is.

See you next time, dear readers, and as always take care!

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Slime Time: April ’21 Roundup

Gosh I’m tired!

On AniFem:

Dragon Goes House Hunting – a tale of fantasy real estate

Let’s Make a Mug Too! – a surprisingly poignant hobby show about ceramics

I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level – a reincarnation isekai about a witch who accidentally becomes the strongest person in the world while she’s gardening

The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent – a power fantasy about instantly being good at your (magic) job

Winter 2021 Recommendations – looking back on the best of the previous season and singing the praises of Laid-Back Camp and Otherside Picnic

Book chats: Gideon the Ninth devours my brain, The Starless Sea thoroughly charms me.

And also! I helped edit the absolutely lovely Errant Night which is now officially out in the world and ready for purchase! Do you like space-faring adventures that double as poetic, moving musings on grief? Give it a shot – I promise it’s worth the interstellar ride.

Cool Jams

A dip into some Tumblr Folklore: a web series that never got made (or did it?), a study in misplaced enthusiasm, and a trip back to the conversation around queer representation circa 2014.

Animation is just really cool!! Here is a dip into the technique of “smears”, a trick that originated to give a greater sense of fluid movement to hand-drawn cartoons but is also making an appearance in video games.

One Garfield archivist’s quest into the orange cat’s weird pop cultural past, from the lost microfiche where the drafts that became the comic live to the (haunting? Charming?) tradition of Garfield Tourism in the heart of the US. Genuinely fascinating and I cannot help but be endeared to this fellow’s devotion.

Wonder Egg Priority: Traumas and Tribulations – Patrick explores how the often hard-to-watch show depicts the messy, nonlinear nature of dealing with trauma with a nuance that resonated heavily with them.

The Earnest Elfin Dream Gay – an essay from a couple of years ago about the (possible) gay adolescent answer to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a character type the author has noticed popping up to represent a new and specific fantasy in YA romance.

Why Seven Seas Altered Its Light Novels – a look into the recent controversy surrounding the manga publisher’s novel translations, detailing the complicated history of “adapting” texts for English-language audiences (read: American sensibilities) and the tensions between fans, freelance translators, and the editors who have the final say.

What Makes Melty Blood So Important? – though often memed-upon, the Melty Blood fighting game is an emblem of a weird yet golden era of anime fandom, and a rare peek into the world of Type-Moon before the juggernaut that is Fate even existed.

Zombie Land Saga: Idol Anime for Non-Idol Fans – Mercedez explores the appeal of everyone’s favourite zombie popstar series, and how it works as both a love letter to and a critique of the idol industry in a way that many other shows do not.

Wandering Thoughts on Wandering Son – a retrospective musing on the landmark trans anime series from a first-time watcher (and a lament that this is still kinda the best we have).

A recommendations thread of manga with trans characters:

And, finally, for this month’s song-on-repeat, this banger that starts slow and gradually transforms a dive bar in the middle of nowhere into an extravagant gay club with the power of ambition and vibes:

And that’s all they wrote – see you soon for more!

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Non-binary Finery: March ’21 Roundup

Me setting off to buy floral button-down shirts

You know what, I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with something poetic or funny to say to sum up March, but sometimes a month just passes by with relative peace and ease, and that’s worth celebrating even if it doesn’t generate many words. Here are some blog posts!

On the blog:

Something Like Euphoria – a big weird post about the big weird (joyful) experience that is gender

Otherside Picnic and Groundbreakingly Goofy Queer Fiction – must a story with queer characters be “good art”? Is it not enough for a pair of lesbians to fight monsters while making silly faces?

On The Anime Herald

Together, Alone: How Laid-Back Camp Shows Companionship Through Technology – far from buying into the Nature vs. Tech dichotomy, my favourite camping show instead explores how smartphones and instant messages can be used to enjoy The Great Outdoors and build relationships

On Anime Feminist

Tropical Rouge! Precure – Episode 1 – the new Precure series bursts onto the scene in a splash of colour, making me question the ethics of selling makeup to children but appealing deeply to my inner seven-year-old’s Mermaid Phase

Bookchats: Gideon the Ninth punches through my reading slump.

Content round the web

A detailed breakdown of what exactly is so wrong with Sia’s directorial debut—here called “vanity project” as it really ought to be. Jessie discusses the problems creators can face when attempting to represent a marginalised group they do not belong to, particularly if they want to represent the entire group allegorically through one character instead of treating that character like an individual person.

A tour through the history of themed restaurants, from haunted cabarets in Bohemian Paris to American family diners banking on racist caricatures to the modern pop-up fandom eateries of today.

Spy x Family: Disarming the Myth of the Nuclear Family – in this comedy series, a spy, an assassin, and a telepath masquerade as the mid-century ideal of the perfect wholesome family, revealing the whole thing as a farce in the process.

America’s Sweetheart: Thoughts on WandaVision – an analysis of where the MCU’s first TV show falls down, chiefly in how it bends backwards to make its protagonist “likeable” at the expense of letting her be morally ambiguous, messy, and interesting.

Wellness for the Self, Wellness for the World: Healin’ Good Precure – a review of 2020’s Precure offering and how it tackles issues of climate change and self-care with nuance despite (or maybe because of) its kid-friendly delivery.

Yuri!!! on ICE and the Revolutionary Portrayal of Queer Slavic Representation – a personal essay about how the positive depiction of Viktor subverts both the stereotypes that usually follow Russian characters around in media, and Russia’s cultural homophobia.

Archivists are Trying to Chronicle Animal Crossing: New Horizons‘ Incredible First Year – there’s no denying that AC:NH was a big part of a lot of people’s pandemic experience, but how does one keep a historic record of a video game like this?

Why Do The Oscars Have a Limited View on Anime? – Best Animated Feature is usually a “lazy” judging category reserved for the latest Disney/Pixar blockbuster, with the occasional token nod to Studio Ghibli. With more anime films coming out in US cinemas, is there potential for a shift?

Anime Versus Rural Australia: A Retrospective – a memoir about a writer from Wagga Wagga discovering Pom Poko and FLCL as a kid, and finding an unexpected resonance between both works and his feelings about his small-town childhood.

March’s “song that’s stuck in my head”

Feeling devious? Looking glamorous? Perhaps… mischievous? And polyamorous? Bop along to this one with me.

And that’s a wrap! I’m back in Premiere Review Town next month, so there will be no big blog posts until May. Take care, everyone!

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February ’21 Roundup

At the end of January, I travelled to the south coast of New South Wales for a few days – a traditional holiday haunt for my family, but one I hadn’t been able to visit for two years owing first to bushfires and then to pandemic conditions. Feeling safe by the sea brings a certain amount of peace, I can tell you that much. And the trip also provided some surreal views that I’m going to take as omens or metaphors for the year ahead: whole mountainsides covered in blackened trees sprouting new growth. Clumsy, fuzzy baby greenery was curling out of burnt tree trunks all along the drive in. It was a frightening reminder of the loss that area had endured, but also kind of hopeful. At the risk of being sappy (who am I kidding? You follow this blog, you know I’m a massive sap) I’m going to take that energy on board. Our bark is blackened, but we’re going to grow back.

On the blog

A Big OI’ Pile of Anime Recommendations (2020) – a slightly belated list of my favourite series I watched in 2020, from sweet sapphic romances to murdery mind games.

Queer YA Spotlight: The Lost Coast – a dreamy, witchy, nonlinear book about magic, finding your place, and the deep and ancient terror of trees.

On AniFem

Yuri Manga Variety Hour – I make my podcasting debut swapping recommendations of comics where ladies fall in love! Now with a transcript for easy access!

High-Rise Invasion – Episode 1 – a schlocky, fan servicey sci-fi show with the fastest damsel-to-badass character development I’ve ever seen

Once more, I am reading books: falling in love with The Falling in Love Montage, satisfying the place in my brain where Until Dawn lives rent-free with Even if We Break, having loads of ghosty fun with Cemetery Boys, and still chugging diligently through Otherside Picnic.

The Webzone

What in the goddamn hell did they do to Winx Club? Is this the “dark and gritty magical girl” concept finally making itself known in European/American media?

We’ve definitely all come across the twee, colourful, minimalist human figures quickly becoming known as “the corporate art style”, but why exactly does it feel so soulless, and how does it differ from other flat and minimalist art styles of bygone eras?

Madoka, Wonder Egg Priority, and the Future of Late-night Magical Girl Shows – speaking of dark and gritty magical girls… a decade on from Madoka Magica, Adam Wescott ponders whether its lasting legacy is less in the “cruel things happening to cute girls” knockoffs and more in surreal psychological adventures like FLIP FLAPPERS and Wonder Egg Priority.

Blue Flag vs. Our Dreams At Dusk: A look at LGBT+ Representation and its Audience – a comparison of two queer manga series, one of which seems to be more heartfelt and nuanced when it comes to its issues, the other of which feels more like a “did you know homophobia is no good?” primer for a presumed straight readership.

Transgender People, “Gay Conversion” and “Lesbian Extinction”: What the Data Show – Julia Serano, eloquent as always, rebuts a recent take about how “lesbians are going extinct” because they’re all transitioning into men, with plenty of stats on hand.

Why is Akane Tsunemori a Cop? – an analysis of Psycho-Pass through a police abolitionist lens, examining what exactly the cyberpunk police procedural has to say about police.

If there’s one thing I’ve been enjoying even more than watching The Egg Show every week, it’s reading analysis of the episodes from different people’s perspectives. So here are some of those:

Monsters in Wonder Egg Priority Episodes 1 – 4 – as well as delving into symbolism and flower language, Emily also has this great deep-dive into the social pressures and systems that the monsters represent.

Wonder Egg Priority & Utena – 1. The Prince – Ego and Reward – also part of a series, mapping the similar themes (and inspirations) between the two series. This introductory post takes us into the realm of heroic princes and helpless maidens who need rescuing, and how the egg-gacha system draws the girls into these roles with an empty promise of redemption.

Steve Jones’ episodic reviews have also been super insightful and eloquent, and I’ve very much been awaiting the new one each week.

I want to tell you that I have some fun new hit song stuck in my head this month, but the truth is it’s Nick Lutsko’s remix of Alex Jones rants into a folk song. Not the best lyrics to have on loop in your brain, but the tune really gets you, and Lutsko hasn’t had to work too hard to convey the absurdity of everything this man says.

That’s all folks – take care and I’ll see you soon in another post!

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New Year, New Nonsense: January ’21 Roundup

Here we are, gang: we got through January, which means we’re one big step into a new year. No one can say what it will bring, but all we can do is hope and fight for the best. If nothing else, I finished writing a book (or, well, the book-length draft manuscript that will hopefully become a book when it’s done being part of a PhD) so I’m going to force that into the shape of a good omen for productivity and success for the coming year—and you’re welcome to take it as one as well!

On the blog

Adventures in the Uncanny with Otherside Picnic – how the most eerie monster in this horror series is the setting itself

Queer YA Spotlight: Out of Salem – a recommendation of Hal Schrieve’s heartfelt and harrowing tale of queer “monstrosity”

On AniFem

Winter 2021 Three Episode Check-in – I sat out of premiere reviews this time round to devote my time and brain to above-mentioned book, but I chimed in with my thoughts on Otherside Picnic and Wonder Egg Priority at the three-ep mark!

I also read some books – I’m getting through the Otherside Picnic novels chapter by chapter, week by week to compare them to the anime adaptation; gushing about the prose in The Lost Coast; and over in my When We Were Magic livetweet I extoll the virtues of letting your protagonists be a bit evil. You know, as a treat.

Web content for perusal

We all know Cats was atrocious, and the criticism most often about the bad CGI… but how does this musical fail on a musical level?

I have fond, if bemused, memories of Digimon: The Movie, which were later smoothed out by learning that it was never really meant to be a movie. This video dives into the film’s tangled production history, and how it’s a hugely impressive feat of editing and localisation and a perfect time capsule for anime in the early ’00s.

EX-ARM is the season’s latest meme, but what exactly went down in the production side of things for it to look so abysmal? It’s a wild ride for sure.

This person staged an intricate production of Hamilton in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The amount of time and effort and wrangling that must have gone into this is staggering to me, plus it’s very fun.

Is Lucky Star rewatchable? (some thoughts about how anime curation and viewing has changed) – a retrospective on the beautiful, weird time capsule that is Lucky Star and how the way audiences engage with anime has totally changed since the era that it encapsulates.

Wonder Egg Priority‘s Exquisite Corpse – a look at the visually stunning premiere and how it draws inspiration from the works of Kyoto Animation in its characterisation, visual language, and strong attention to little humanising details… using all those techniques to humanise the surreal and macabre drama at the story’s heart. (For more on the Ikuhara connection that post mentions, you can read this one!)

Did EX-ARM Censor a Same-sex Kiss, or is it Just Completely incompetent? – a neat, short summary of maybe the funniest piece of anime discourse to cross my feed in a while.

Netflix Lands Adaptation of YA Graphic Novel Heartstopper – hot dang!

Laid-Back Camp Season 2, Episodes 1 – 3 – a review of the opening to season two of the world’s cosiest hobby anime, focusing eloquently on the sensory storytelling that makes its world feel so inviting.

And, while I sat out of premiere reviews this time round, the team did an excellent job as always and they’re all available to read here! What series will you be following this season?

This year I’m going to do a new thing where every time I write a roundup post, I’m going to include the song currently stuck in my head. I don’t blog about music but still like sharing what I enjoy, so I figure this will be a fun way to do that!

Take care as always, and I’ll see you on the flipside.

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Merry Crisis: December ’20 Roundup

This is the final roundup of 2020, which makes it tempting to make it something of a retrospective on the year. But if I’m being honest I kind of don’t want to dwell on it: the best way to sum up 2020 is to say that it’s left me more exhausted than I’ve probably ever been, and I would rather spend what remains of my energy writing about literally anything else.

That said, there’s some stuff to celebrate among all that tiredness: I’m bone tired because a bunch of bad things happened and my mental health has rarely been so fragile, but I’m also bone tired because I worked really hard and achieved some really cool stuff this year. I got an article published on The Conversation, which is quite probably the most looked-at any of my writing has been so far—and it garnered a spark of media interest and I got to go on not one, but two radio stations and talk about queer YA for ten minutes. One was local, but one was in Sydney, and people know where Sydney is even if they’re not from around here, so that feels very special to me.

I also got my paper on Every Heart a Doorway published, and got to write for AZE about Alice Oseman’s novels. All of my scholarly (and semi-scholarly) writing has been published open access so far, which means none of it is behind paywalls and anyone can read it, which is super important to me and frankly super cool, so I’m really glad I’ve been able to do this.

Most bonkers of all, I lectured and ran a whole undergrad creative writing unit from July to November. This was a mildly terrifying experience, but also a very rewarding one—and if I can do it and get such good results in weird semi-online semi-pandemic conditions, it bodes pretty well that I can do it again and even better during a “normal” semester, so fingers crossed that I get the opportunity again in 2021!

And, in my final Big Career News, this year I was contacted by the good folks of AniFem, who said they were looking to expand their staff as the site matures ever further, and offered me a place there as a reviewer and editor. As you know, I’ve been writing for AniFem basically since they got off the ground, and it’s been a hugely rewarding and fun space to grow as a feature writer while working with some really cool people. So of course I jumped at the chance, and you’ll find me there doing premiere reviews and stitching away behind the scenes, for the foreseeable future! (…but not next month, because I have a thesis to finish. It turns out that having a busy, harrowing year takes energy and time away from your PhD)

Looking at that list of milestones and achievements really does make for a sense of structure and productivity in a year where it felt like my brain turned into soft cheese. I hope you have some good things–small or large or of whatever size—that you can also hang onto. Maybe you just survived, emotionally and physically, which frankly is an achievement never to be overlooked in the modern day.

Measuring by years and trying to determine if they were good years or bad years has always felt kind of arbitrary, as has looking to the next set of 365 days and making predictions about them. So I’m just going to carry my exhausted self over this pre-painted finish line and keep going, hoping for the best as I do every day but not putting 2021 on any kind of pedestal. I hope that you’ll come with me.

And now, a writing roundup, and in the spirit of the season, a pile of funny reviews of weird Christmas movies.

On the blog

Why Do We Love Coming-of-age Stories So Much? – well, maybe I can’t answer that question for everyone, but here is some musing from me.

Tell Me Why: A Beautiful Game About the Strangeness of Trauma and Memory – a spoiler-free overview where I tell you why I found this quiet, personal little game so meaningful.

A Big Ol’ Pile of Book Recommendations (2020) – a roundup of my favourite books I read this year. See any you liked as well?

Web content

Because what’s more romantic than mail and confusing dialogue?

Because what’s more romantic than hitting a time traveller with your car?

Because what’s more romantic than a romance that was filmed during social distancing protocol?

Because what’s more romantic than a crumbling European economy under the reign of an uncaring monarch?

Because what’s more romantic than… uh… killing Santa and taking on his identity? (contains a musical number!)

That’s going to do us for this one, reader. Onwards and onwards, and I’ll see you in the new year.

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